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Belter: Mining the Asteroids, 2076» Forums » General

Subject: Good review of Belter at www.grognard.com rss

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Here the truceless armies yet / Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; / They kill and kill and never die; / And I think that each is I. // None will part us, none undo / The knot that makes one flesh of two, /
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Sick with hatred, sick with pain, / Strangling -- When shall we be slain? // When shall I be dead and rid / Of the wrong my father did? / How long, how long, till spade and hearse / Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
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http://grognard.com/reviews/belter.txt


From: "Andrew Walters"
Subject: RE: GDW: Belter review wanted - done!

Belter
------

Belter is typical of GDW output in 1979, which is to say great for 1979
and not too bad today.

Belter gives each of the first four players to take the part of a
prospector, partnership, or coporation, with appropriately increasing
levels of starting resources and victory levels. In the Advanced Game a
fifth player plays the Peace Keeping Force (PKF).

Basically, you buy ships, prospect asteroids, mine ore, gas, and CT
(contra-terrene matter, aka anti-matter), haul it back and sell it.
Pretty vanilla at the core. The price fluctuates, of course, and you
need special equipment for CT Matter, but it pays more. You can put in
installations, smelters, etc and hire laborers to increase your income.
There are special regions of space with special rules, and in the
Advanced Game there are public safety rules, bank financing, arms
embargos, the PKF, and a poss ible revolt of the belt! Suddenly its not
so vanilla.

Oh, and of course you can cooperate with the other players, or shoot at
them. Go ahead, take their ships, cargo, and crew. The latter can be
spaced, ransomed, or hired, etc. You can even throw CT Matter at
people.

Combat is a good balance of chrome (beams, missles, boarding, good
combat results) and simplicity. Its also expensive, which is good
because it prevents the game from degenerating into petty fights - you
only pull a gun when you mean it.

Movement includes a momentum element but is very simple: you can
manuever (six points of changing course 30 degrees or moving forward one
hex, uses fuel) or coast (six hexes straight forward, use no fuel). I
like this because it is space-like, but you don't have to spend ten
minutes of your life figuring out how to get your ship to a particular
point without coasting past it, etc. while the other players twiddle
their thumbs.

The PKF player has an interesting role: he or she cannot mine or sell,
but as the Peace Keeping Force set up by Earth's hungry government their
goal is to keep prices low, and their hands are not exactly tied behind
their backs in how they get this done. They have a budget from Earth,
troops, powerful warships (whereas the players have armed merchant
ships), but you can't increase supply (and thus decrease prices) by
shooting at people. They can take bribes, prevent costly wars, look the
other way if peopl e mine illegal areas, flat out help players with cash
& ships (to make them more productive), or, if all else fails, seize
cargoes and dump them on the market to drive the price down!

Players can defy the PKF if they have the weapons, but I imagine that's
hard to do. But if at least two players are willing, they can start a
revolt!

I've never played in a five player game, but maybe someday.

Belter comes in one of those 11.33 x 14.25 x 1.125 inch big flat boxes
that probably come out to even measurements in the metric system, but
which are sure to get crushed in your closet. The cover is that
monochrome stuff GDW was doing back then, but its a particularly nice
example of it, some space-suited guys laser-jackhammering an asteroid,
big mining ship in the background. There are a whopping 480 counters,
but they're not too exciting - black on color generic icon for unit type
and an ID number. The map is actually kind of nice, 22x28 of flat black
with a grey hexgrid and hex numbers, then colored dots for different
asteroids, and planetoids. Its very simple, but it really gives the
inky-blackness-of-space feel.

The rules are 12 pages and are pretty clear. I've always liked GDW
rules, the clean white look, attracitve font, the clarity, the lack of
double-digit, decimal point numbered paragraphs.

I played this game a couple of times, but its been too long for me to
make any responsible comment on how game play progresses, etc. But its
simple, clean, and lots of fun. There are a lot of new games I haven't
seen that maybe better, but I'd play Belter in a heartbeat. It has a
quality I prize highly that is increasingly rare in games and everywhere
else - its not stupid.

In fact, if I'm not the only person who still has a copy, let's get a
jointly-moderated PBEM going.
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Bob Blanchett
Australia
Clifton Hill
Victoria
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Long been a Triplanetary fan so I jumped at this last year and bought a softcopy from Marc at FF.

I'd jump at PBEM better but for the fact I'm about to start a game of PBF Imperium on BGG.
Please keep me in mind for the future
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